White House to nominate Lucy Koh to federal appeals court

Koh is expected to be nominated to fill a spot on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

San Jose-based U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh, one of the most influential federal judges in Silicon Valley, is expected to soon be nominated by the White House to the nation's largest federal appeals court.

White House expected to nominate high-profile Silicon Valley-based Judge Lucy Koh to federal appeals court

According to layers and judges familiar with the Obama administration's vetting process, Koh is expected to be nominated to fill a spot on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals later this month.

Koh, who has served nearly six years on the Bay Area's federal bench, is best known for presiding over the smartphone patent feud over between Apple and Samsung, as well as antitrust litigation over hiring practices at some of Silicon Valley's largest tech companies.

Courtroom sketch of Lucy Koh during the Apple v. Samsung case.

Koh's nomination, first reported by the San Jose Mercury News, would fill the only California vacancy on the 9th Circuit, created by the recent retirement of Judge Harry Pregerson.

In 2010, after President Obama nominated Koh to the district court bench, she received a 90-0 confirmation vote from the U.S. Senate. However, her confirmation in the Republican-controlled Senate will likely face an uphill climb in this presidential election year.

The White House has continued to nominate federal judges in recent months, including a candidate for a Missouri-based federal appeals court last week. But legal experts say Koh should not pack her office just yet, given likely Senate Republican resistance to any of the president's picks for the 9th Circuit on the eve of an election.

"I think the likelihood of an Obama nominee to the 9th Circuit getting through the Senate in this election year is close to zero," said Arthur Hellman, a University of Pittsburgh law professor and 9th Circuit expert, who nevertheless called Koh a "shrewd choice" because of her strong reputation.

Koh previously served on the state bench in Santa Clara County. When she joined the federal bench, she was the Bay Area's first Asian American judge and first female Korean American federal judge in the nation.

More here: White House Eyes Koh for Seat on Ninth Circuit


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